UN-Habitat boosts regional planning in Kenya with Tana and Athi River agreementNairobi, 29 May 2015 – UN-Habitat and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) have entered into an agreement to facilitate collaboration in areas of sustainable urban development in Kenya. The Managing Director of TARDA, Steven Ruimuku, and Director for the Regional Offices for Africa, UN-Habitat, Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to secure the partnership between the two institutions.

The partnership will focus on contributing to comprehensive regional planning by supporting TARDA’s capacity through tested approaches and tools in the formulation and implementation of an Integrated Regional Development Plan (IRDP). The initiative will also create awareness on regional approaches and improve skills on policy formulation among TARDA staff and urban and regional planners of nineteen county governments covered by the TARDA region.

Sustainable urbanization through regional planning

Given the need to embrace urbanization and sustainability through integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions, the Integrated Regional Development Plan will help promote balanced and mutually supportive urban-rural development in the region. Speaking during the signing ceremony, TARDA director lauded the process and noted that the IRDP will not only help the Authority achieve its core mandate of integrated planning and coordination of development projects, but will also analyze and develop strategies to harness rural-urban linkages to ensure improved livelihoods of communities living in the fast urbanizing region.

Speaking on behalf of UN-Habitat, Ms. Gebre-Egziabher reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to support Kenya in advancing the sustainable urban development agenda. She noted that due to Africa’s rapid urbanization there is a critical need to prioritize urban issues in national, regional and local authority development agendas. Ms. Gebre-Egziabher said: “We need to plan and guide urban development as opposed to retrofitting later.

Authorities need to enhance revenue generation, ensure development of compact cities, make public transport systems more efficient and delineate areas to be conserved. This also needs to be guided by clear plans and legislations”. The Coordinator for UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design Branch, Rafael Tuts, noted that the agency is keen to support the integrated planning process of the region, a key contribution to achievement of the country’s vision 2030.